‘Because we don’t just report India; we report to India’. Kudos, Zee.

We are aware of the dust and soot that the coal block allocations’ investigations by various media vehicles threw up.

Now that the Supeme Court has cancelled the coal block allocations, here’s a simple, direct and really well written B2B ad that the Zee Network has released.

Matter-of-fact.

Not smug.

Not preening.

Just sharing a sense of vindication that is dignified in its expression.

The ad reads: We kept fighting to unearth the truth behind the coal scam even when the odds were against us. Pressure from those in power did not deter our resolve. As the Supreme Court cancels the coal block allocations, we realize that everything we went through to bring you the facts was worth the effort. Because we don’t just report India; we report to India.

Kudos, Zee.

The Zee Network ad on being vindicated

The Zee Network ad on being vindicated

Pimco CEO quit after reading 10-year-old daughter’s list

A startling wakeup call, this.

Read this story, written by Alice Philipson (@alicephilipson1 on Twitter). Tells you about how the chief of the world’s biggest bond business gave up his job because of a note his 10-year-old daughter gave him one day.

Here’s Alice Philipson’s story from The Telegraph:

A British-educated investor who quit his job as chief of the world’s biggest bond business has revealed he resigned after his 10-year old-daughter gave him a note citing 22 milestones in her life he had missed.

PIMCO's Chief Executive Officer and Co-Chief Investment Officer Mohamed El-Erian  Photo: REUTERS

PIMCO’s Chief Executive Officer and Co-Chief Investment Officer Mohamed El-Erian Photo: REUTERS

Mohamed El-Erian left Pimco in January this year amid rumours of a fractious relationship with Bill Gross, the company’s founder.

But now Mr El-Erian, who attended both Cambridge and Oxford, has admitted that personal reasons played a part in the decision after he realised he didn’t spend enough time with his daughter.

‘my work-life balance had gotten way out of whack, and the imbalance was hurting my very special relationship with my daughter. I was not making nearly enough time for her’

 

Among the events the investor had missed were his 10-year-old daughter’s first day at school, her first football match of the season and a parent-teacher meeting.

The 56-year-old, who is now Chief Economic Adviser at German insurer Allianz, Pimco’s parent company, told wealth management magazine Worth : “About a year ago, I asked my daughter several times to do something — brush her teeth, I think it was — with no success. I reminded her that it was not so long ago that she would have immediately responded, and I wouldn’t have had to ask her multiple times; she would have known from my tone of voice that I was serious.

“She asked me to wait a minute, went to her room and came back with a piece of paper. It was a list that she had compiled of her important events and activities that I had missed due to work commitments. Talk about a wake-up call.

“The list contained 22 items, from her first day at school and first soccer match of the season to a parent-teacher meeting and a Halloween parade. And the school year wasn’t yet over. I felt awful and got defensive: I had a good excuse for each missed event! Travel, important meetings, an urgent phone call, sudden to-do.

“But it dawned on me that I was missing an infinitely more important point. As much as I could rationalize it — as I had rationalized it — my work-life balance had gotten way out of whack, and the imbalance was hurting my very special relationship with my daughter. I was not making nearly enough time for her.”

Mr El-Erian’s punishing work hours as CEO of Pimco have been widely reported. Friends said on an average day his alarm clock went off at 2.45am. He then arrived at the office by 4.15am, returned home to his family about 7pm, before eating and going to bed around 8.45pm.

Since resigning from the company, which oversees assets worth more than $1.9 trillion, California-based Mr El-Erian said he has taken a “portfolio” of part-time roles which give him greater flexibility. He and his wife take turns in taking their daughter to school.

The investor was born in New York but spent his childhood in Egypt before attending boarding school in Britain. He is currently Chair of President Barack Obama’s Global Development Council.

From The Telegraph

Last shortlists released on final day of Spikes Asia 2014

Spikes Asia had received 522 entries from India

Juries have had to judge 4,984 pieces of work 

The final day of Spikes Asia has seen the remaining shortlists, Creative Effectiveness and Integrated, announced ahead of tonight’s awards where the 2014 winners will be revealed and honoured.

spikesasiaToday, Ted Royer, Jean Lin, Stefan Sagmeister and Emad Tahtouh took to the main stage with their President’s Addresses. Topics covered included how the rules of relationships can be applied to advertising; the importance of digital; achieving happiness as a designer; and understanding what is possible and what is about to be.

Throughout the Festival, the Forum has hosted speakers from a wide range of industries, who have all shared their insights on a daily theme. Today’s theme put ‘Creativity in Mobile’ under the spotlight by examining mobile technology design and how it enables multiple devices to remain connected at all times. Previous day’s themes have concentrated on ‘Creative Talent’, ‘Consumer Insight’ and ‘Creativity in Social’, with speakers including Martin Conneen of Wunderman, Bex Deere and Nir Wegrzyn from BrandOpus and Marc Landsberg from socialdeviant.

Throughout today the Young Spikes competitors are presenting their entries to the specialist juries who will decide which teams will take home a gold medal. Getty Images have been the image providers for the competitions.

Corinne Woels, Head of Sales for Getty Images South East Asia, comments that, “As humans, we tend to hold onto fixed and oversimplified ideas and visuals to describe and label people and concepts. It’s time to kill the cliché, to break with stereotypes, and embrace the world around us as it actually is – in all its variety and beauty. Imagery has become the most important method of communication in Asia and the creative leaders at Spikes Asia hold the power to re-picture and redefine how we see ourselves and the world around us.”

Spikes Asia had received 522 entries from India

Juries have had to judge 4,984 pieces of work 

The Spikes Asia Festival of Creativity, which is under way in Singapore, has received 4,984 entries for the 2014 awards – with 522 of these coming from India.

The following number of entries have been received in each category: Branded Content & Entertainment (187), Creative Effectiveness (31), Design (332), Digital (461), Direct (329), Film (397), Film Craft (258), Healthcare (173), Innovation (63), Integrated (59), Media (422), Mobile (186), Outdoor (605), PR (247), Print (379), Print & Poster Craft (306), Promo & Activation (434), Radio (115).

Ahead of the Festival, the Innovation jury, led by Emad Tahtouh, Director of Applied Technology at FINCH, had  completed a preliminary round of judging to arrive at a shortlist of entries, each of which was to be presented live to the jury at the Festival.

Emad Tatouh

Emad Tatouh

Commenting on the category, Emad said, “Asia is at the heart of technology. Its manufacturing, creative invention and innovation processes cannot be matched by any other region. It is relied upon more than any other region in the world, and is at the centre of all things tech.”

Ten entries were shortlisted, with Australia having the most Shortlisted, closely followed by Japan and the Philippines. Live judging took place on Wednesday 24 September and was open to all delegates, who would be able to witness first-hand the region’ s latest innovations and technologies.

In total, 90 jury members have been meeting meet in Singapore to judge entries from across Asia Pacific and decide which are groundbreaking enough to take home a trophy.

Alongside the awards, the four-day Festival has been filled with content, networking and learning. The event also puts particular focus on nurturing talent through the Young Spikes competitions and academies.

The Awards Ceremony, where the 2014 winners will be revealed, will bring Spikes Asia 2014 to a close, with celebrations continuing into the night at the official After Party.

Terry Savage

Terry Savage

Terry Savage, Chairman, Lions Festivals, said,  “The entries received into Spikes Asia always act as a good indication of regional industry trends and the direction it’s heading in, which is why it’s interesting to see that the categories showing the strongest growth are Digital, which has seen entries rise by 68%, and Mobile, where entries have grown by 48%. On a country level, it’s fantastic that Sri Lanka has almost doubled its entries, whilst Malaysia, Pakistan and Chinese Taipei have also seen substantial increases. It’s going to be an exciting few days as we start to see the best in APAC’s creative communications rising to the top.”

Spikes Asia has been under way from 23rd September, till today, 26 September, at Suntec, Singapore.

 

 

Media can be the best ‘Made In India’ story: Sanjay Gupta

In Delhi last week, I attended the CII Big Picture Summit 2014 on Friday and Saturday. Excellent policy and industry leaders, a great event put together by CII. Congratulations to Amita Sircar for this big and meaningful summit. Comparisons are odious, so all I’ll say is, it is an excellent follow up to FICCI’s annual Frames series held in Mumbai.

The theme was related to something every business owner and professional works towards: monetization.  The Summit Theme this year was: Monetising Strategies: The Tryst for a USD 100 billion Indian M & E Industry.

MrGuptaCII01

 

Among the excellent addresses at the summit, there was one that I thought was really worth sharing. Luckily, I got my hands on the complete transcript, so far be it from me to try and report and comment upon it. Let me give you the opportunity to delve into the exact words that reflect the thinking of an accomplished young veteran in the space of mass consumed ‘necessities’ like FMCG, telecom and the mainstay of Indians each day, Cable & Satellite Television.

Here’s what Sanjay Gupta, Star India COO, one of the select speakers for the inaugural session, told an audience comprising some of the most respected thought leaders and active young professionals in Media & Entertainment:

Sanjay Gupta COO Star India

Sanjay Gupta COO Star India

“Come, make in India”. This was the rallying call the new Prime Minister of India made more than a month ago, calling for the world to come and make products in India. It was an inspiring call for India to be associated with designing, shaping and building great products. In many ways, it also signaled a sea change in sentiment about the country, a huge movement away from the pessimism of the last few years. Here is an India waking up to the anticipation of an exciting and better future on every front: jobs, connectivity, sanitation, infrastructure, and investments. And underlining all of that was the idea of things made in India.

It struck me as I listened to his speech that Media & Entertainment is one industry that has lived by the mantra of “Make in India” for over two decades  now.

The Indian media industry is the biggest in the world by output. Over 500,000 hours of television content, 80,000 newspapers published daily, 1,600 feature films each year. 98% of this output is conceptualized, shaped and produced in India. Each piece is uniquely crafted, stamped through local assembly lines, distributed locally and very often exported to various parts of the world.

And it is the one industry that presents the government with the possibility of  aggressive growth with a few changes in outlook and policy.

The Indian media industry is the biggest in the world by output. Over 500,000 hours of television content, 80,000 newspapers published daily, 1,600 feature films each year. 98% of this output is conceptualized, shaped and produced in India. Each piece is uniquely crafted, stamped through local assembly lines, distributed locally and very often exported to various parts of the world. Very few industries can claim this extent of indigenous creation. Be it FMCG or Auto, even with factories in India, what they invariably produce are batches of a concoction doctored in Europe or America or an assembly of parts shipped from Germany or Japan.

Within 2 years of cable TV coming to town, women were less likely to tolerate domestic violence, less likely to prefer sons over daughters, and more inclined to enroll their girls in schools. The power of this sector is in its ability to inspire imaginations.

 

MrGuptaCII06

Sanjay Gupta

And, in many ways, the size and vibrancy of the media industry is a testimony to the success of the reforms unleashed two decades back. It was India’s openness to new ideas and new investments that triggered the explosion of creativity and output across television and other sectors of the media. And what it did was facilitate the growth of a uniquely made in India product.

As we all know, the impact of the M&E sector is not just economic. Years ago, the University of Chicago did a study across a large number of villages in India. They were trying to understand the impact of satellite television. Their results were startling. Within 2 years of cable TV coming to town, women were less likely to tolerate domestic violence, less likely to prefer sons over daughters, and more inclined to enroll their girls in schools. The power of this sector is in its ability to inspire imaginations.

And, yet, this is not a sector that is taken seriously as a growth engine.

 

Despite growing at 3 times GDP consistently for the last few years, despite employing 6 million people, despite being a 90,000 crore industry, this sector is not seen as a growth engine. This industry is an economic enterprise like the best of them and is capable of creating employment and wealth much faster than most other sectors and with the ability to be a force multiplier, like it is in most countries. It is particularly relevant in India because it can be an employment generator without massive public investments and without being hampered by the deficiencies of public infrastructure.

What can be a uniquely ‘Made in India’ story is being ignored.

I believe there are two reasons why the media and entertainment industry is not really seen as a growth engine or as an exciting part of the Made in India story. The biggest reason is that many successive governments have seen it as just a vehicle of glitz and glamour or seen it through the narrow lens of a very small and hyper critical news sector. And, therefore issues that are intrinsic to unlocking growth in this sector are either misunderstood or deprioritized or both.

Take the case of Digitization.

MrGuptaCII08The whole debate around Digitization seems to have come down to issues such as “how difficult it will be for the LCO to make the shift” or “how broadcasters stand to gain from lower carriage” or even “how important it is to get the boxes manufactured in India” – when in reality, the real issue is whether we are serious about creating an enabling framework for delivery of content that will dramatically increase diversity of content and boost creativity.

If we take the case of Pricing, in a country that is rapidly comfortable with openness and competition, the media and entertainment sector is one exception where price control and regimentation reminds us of an era that we have put behind us. The biggest victim again is growth because keeping prices controlled in a market where consumers are demanding a lot more and willing to pay a lot more, only means that the sector is starved of the investment resources it needs to fuel growth.

In a creative industry, channels are  busy copying stories, formats, and featuring impossible twists that are viewed more for their ludicrousness, than for their ingenuity. And it’s not surprising that most reality shows are copies of their western counterparts – doling out more of the same.

But it is not just past governments that are at fault. The problem lies with us too.  Despite understanding the power of what we do, as an industry, we still have been reluctant to make the big changes needed to really fuel growth. In the last 10 years, there has been a manifold increase in the volume of content we have produced, the number of channels, the number of newspapers, the number of radio stations, and the number of films – but it is hard to argue that the increase in volume has been accompanied by a consistent increase in quality. And we have always set the bar too low for us.

When it comes to digital, we are so new, that we are still taking a rather myopic view – half-imagining that clips shot by TV will suffice as long as they are made available online

When it comes to films, India gets less than 7% of its revenues from overseas markets – Hollywood, in contrast earns 60-70% from global markets. Despite years of applause for Bollywood, from various corners of the world, we have still not managed to create a truly global market for our creative work.

When it comes to drama, we are still reluctant to break away from what has worked well for us for the last two decades. In a creative industry, channels are  busy copying stories, formats, and featuring impossible twists that are viewed more for their ludicrousness, than for their ingenuity. And it’s not surprising that most reality shows are copies of their western counterparts – doling out more of the same.

This is a serious issue of talent. We have a real crisis on both supply and quality. While it is not unique to Media and Entertainment, what is different is the lack of recognition of the scale of the challenge.

When it comes to digital, we are so new, that we are still taking a rather myopic view – half-imagining that clips shot by TV will suffice as long as they are made available online: whereas the business of shaping content requires shaping each part of the ecosystem including applications and middleware.

When it comes to news, of course, innovation has taken the form of each channel out-shouting the other.

Underlining all of this is a serious issue of talent. We have a real crisis on both supply and quality. While it is not unique to Media and Entertainment, what is different is the lack of recognition of the scale of the challenge. While other fast growing sectors like IT and financial services are actively working to find the right talent and building the right skills, we, as a community are complacent in our belief that this sector is different. We hide under the pretense of creativity and have convinced ourselves that creativity gives us the license to be informal and chaotic. It is this informality and chaos that has seeped into our approach to spotting and grooming talent.

How can we aspire to be a $100 billion industry, if we ourselves have not raised the bar on what we create and how we shape the agenda for this sector?

 With a young, aspirational population, the next big frontier for the industry may well be using the power of content and stories to shape the education of the millennials and the generation after that… No country in the world faces the challenge of education and skill improvement that we do in India. And, therefore, the answers that we come up with will open up yet another frontier for the Made in India brand.

All of the above assumes even greater importance when we recognize that we have entered a new age of innovation in media and entertainment. One where the boundaries have blurred between storytelling and the technologies that deliver great stories to consumers. Broadband technology and increasing penetration of smartphones and other connected devices are facilitating the emergence of a new ecosystem that will still rely on the same storytellers to engage and entertain large consumer audiences. It will also create exciting new opportunities for the Made in India brand to shine across the world.

In fact, it is not even clear that the future of entertainment is just entertainment.

With a young, aspirational population, the next big frontier for the industry may well be using the power of content and stories to shape the education of the millennials and the generation after that. For too long, we have relied on brick and mortar institutions to deliver schooling and education. The same ecosystem fueled by technology and new screens will also present opportunities for content creators like us to explore how we use our capabilities and tools to educate and skill large numbers of people. No country in the world faces the challenge of education and skill improvement that we do in India. And, therefore, the answers that we come up with will open up yet another frontier for the Made in India brand.

The possibilities are immense. And underlining the opportunity is a uniquely Made in India story – the Indian media and entertainment sector – that can excite and shape the world if we are alive to the possibilities.

 

 

 

 

Love him or not, this Radio presenter keeps you engaged

WhoIsThis

Raw energy and an ever-vertiginous spiral of passion. Does this guy mainline on an adrenaline tank? I can’t imagine him still in the studio, and my ears have never ‘seen’ him down.

 

The morning drive to work is, more often than not, Radio time in the car.

The beauty of this medium is it can morph, chameleon-like, from non-intrusive but still subliminally engaging elevator music to the highly personal and engaging interaction that only the best programming strategists and presenters – in equal measure and that order – can make it.

I’ve become a diehard fan of BIG FM 92.7 MHz, purely because of one thing – the retro music it plays. But more on that another time. It’s also a function of presentation, but, as I said, more on that another time.

Right now, I want to share something about one Radio presenter who reaches out to and connects with millions of listeners each morning, making them mentally sit up by prodding them out of passive listening. Thanks to his on-air persona, attitude and style of delivery, he  probably has just a few more fans than detractors (and this isn’t based on any numbers or research, it’s just my own presumption).

He keeps you engrossed and engaged, and filled – depending on whether you like or dislike him —with a sense of growing wonder or exasperation.  Such as, how can someone be so good, so fluent, so super-intelligent as to be able to not just mentally craft such beautiful, complex sentences but also deliver them instantenously at the rate — I imagine — of 300 words per minute in English, Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati and God knows how many more languages!

Or how can he be so arrogant as to address you with a “tu” on air – God knows, ‘most others follow him, and I’ve heard some presenters descend to using the same form of address (‘Tu”).  Now that may well be because he feels the familiarity of a ‘Tu’ marks a dil-se connection. But it does jar – did to me at least, like this morning when he was conversing with a Law Professor of Siddharth College, a Mrs Shidhaye. He spoke beautifully, from the heart, thanking her for gracing him by calling in, acknowledging her amazing, multi-faceted, worthy-of-complete respect life as a woman and a teacher of young minds. But he kept addressing her as “Tu”. Stuck out, that.

Then you also wonder how he can really lead conversations so well with callers, be so natural and completely unrehearsed (if he’s reading from a script —  well nigh impossible, that — well, it’s a great achievement because it never really shows).

Another great thing about this completely engaging presenter? His brilliant felicity with language. Languages, rather. His Urdu, Marathi, Gujarati and Hindi, of course, are perfectly spoken, like he’d have had four mother tongues. The nuktas and talahffuz in Urdu, the lovely cadences of Marathi, the sweetly conversed Gurajati and of course, the superfluent, even pristine Hindi, often delivered in supersonic staccato tempo, leave you wondering. I do wonder if he’s pre-recorded some of those screaming-hurtling-speeding-Rajdhani-locomotive-speed stings; seems impossible to deliver at those speeds. But again, seems impossible to seamlessly fade them into an already quick conversation too. This morning was a case in point. I forget one hurtler, but I remember it left me wide-eyed and startled with the perfect delivery. Maybe he’s mainlining on a tank of adrenalin.

Another thing about him. He’s like the Wikipedia on Radio. Listen to his interactive tactics on any episode, on any morning, and you’ll see the thought that’s gone into each, and the value he adds by way of the useful information, uplifting feelings, and inspiring thoughts he infuses you with. An emotional voice in your backyard that connects with those who are the more privileged decision makers who drive or are driven both ways to and from work in cars, is a significant connection for social change. What he does is keep them engaged, informed, and entertained. He’ll dart from preachy to funny to serious to wacky, but his style of delivery is always emotional. Even though he can be so off-putting as to refer to himself in the third person, and to you with aq ‘Tu’ (I’m stuck on that!) he is a truly gifted presenter, speaks super confidently, straight from the heart. Everything he does on-air is imbued in passion.

For instance, this morning’s conversation with the Law College lecturer was part of an interactive contest seeking to celebrate beautiful, noble woman-hood in tandem with the holy 9-day Navratri festival that began today. Beautiful link that hits the sweet spot of devotion for Goddess Durga and respect for Women. Now if it was a producer who thought of the concept, wonderful, but it might well be the man himself.  Of course, show producers research and keep topical, festive, other info ready for their presenters, and are the most hardworking hearts, brains and bodies  behind every show, but I can’t imagine him letting anyone take charge of the direction of his show. A loose canon that’ll always win.

Oh, one more great quality he has is the great art of conversing. He is not an uddghoshak, but a supremely gifted conversationalist. He chats with you. He propounds a lot, sometimes, but it doesn’t seem put on; rather, it’s a passion-overflow.  He can draw his callers out easily, make them shed inhibitions, put them at their ease to converse and want to share what’s in their minds. And he does that without trying to steer the conversation towards any hidden agenda. He can be bristlingly righteous — and therefore misunderstood to be haughty — humble, polite or warmly chatty, and at times, arrogant as well. And that arrogance is from fiercely owning a thought or an idea. But it is laudable that even through his Look-Ma-No-Hands style of speedy delivery, his honesty and sincerity shines through constantly. That is wonderful. You don’t just happen to for so long and remain an iconic on-air presenter-connector on one of the most demanding, professionally run, profitable and respected Radio Networks in the country for nothing.

So, any guesses on this presenter?

It’s got to be obvious, and if I had included a picture of his, youd’ve have known him immediately. But there’s the thing. He’s notoriously camera-shy, keeps behind his glares and hat. In fact, years ago, when I was editor of Impact magazine, and had started the section called RadioTalk, I wanted to feature him in a profile; asked him for a picture, which he flatly refused to give. Said, just use glares and a hat. But then, that’s Jeetu Raj for you. He was adamant. Unfortunately, I was too. And guess who gave? The profile.

It didn’t run.

So, having listened to and liked many radio presenters – loathe the word jockeys – I must say that for Jeeturaaj, for his humungous talent and great expertise, knowledge, passion and empathy, and NOT for his Tu-tadaak, as we Hindi-bhaashis like to put it: immense respect. Keep up the good work. Tu achcha kar raha hai, Jeetu! (couldn’t resist that ;-)  Laga reh! Keep enthusing, inspiring and sometimes irritating, but always engaging and entertaining them all.

Mirchi, my friend Prashant Panday, MD of ENIL, which owns it,  had told me a couple of years ago, that in the early days, Mirchi had discovered a now-popular radio jock who’s out with a  scimitar out to cut everyone down to size (not this words). She was very talented, and even though a Mirchi talent hunt had discovered her, “We did not hire her,” Prashant told me, “as we found in her a fitment issue with the values of our brand. She is extremely talented, but she just didn’t have a fit with our brand.”

“See, we are a sunshine brand, a happy brand, we add joy to your life,” Prashant had said. “We don’t take people’s pants off or create a hype or tamasha on every occasion. We have a certain defined brand personality and our jobs fit our brand personality. When we defined our brand name Mirchi, our Chairman said: ‘Once you have tasted Mirchi, everything else will feel bland’.  So we just aim to come up with something that adds Sunshine to the tense lives of listeners.”

And for years, now, weekday mornings, all charged up and sparking, bristling with energy and passion, Jeeturaaj has been doing just that.

Adding sunshine.

Despite the current economic gloom, India’s future is bright indeed: HSBC report

Whether you are an investor or an analyst, or a professional who needs deeper knowledge and insights about India, you absolutely must read the recently released report by HSBC Global Research, Unfolding The Tapestry – A Guide To India’s States.

 

UNITED STATES OF INDIA HSBC RESEARCH“Observing India through the state lens,” says the cover-page intro to the report, “opens up a range of opportunities for investors and provides lessons for policymakers.”

 
This useful document, authored by Dr Frederic Neumann and Prithviraj Srinivas, offers several insights. Here’s an important excerpt from the authors’ introduction to the report on their research: “What emerges from our research,” they write, “is a far more complex picture of India and its states than we first assumed.

“From an investor perspective, it underscores the importance of looking at India on a state-by-state basis. It also suggests that, despite all the current economic gloom, India’s future is bright indeed. Its demographic dividend, emerging middle class, army of skilled technology workers, and vibrant corporate sector are all significant plusses.”

(Check the download link for the complete report at the end of this story.  And do remember to read it in tandem with the disclosures and analyst certifications in the Disclosure appendix, and with the Disclaimer, which forms part of it.)

But before you delve into the complete document, here, verbatim, is the complete intro that promises and delivers valuable insights in the complete report document:

In late 2010, HSBC Global Research published a major report titled Inside The Growth Engine, A guide to China’s Regions, Provinces And Cities; a follow-up called Re-Tuning The Growth Engine was released in September 2013. One of the most important themes was how much local officials can achieve with little supervision from (or in defiance of) the central government.

We now turn our attention to India, the world’s largest democracy that is expected to soon overtake China to become the most populous nation.

India is typically looked at as one homogenous country, with its policies viewed through the prism of the central government in New Delhi. This ignores important differences across the Indian states. For example, some are opening up their economies, cutting red tape and introducing reforms based on what works for them. In turn, this has delivered impressive growth rates. Others are not making much progress in these areas and are struggling to deal with significant poverty. A top-down, one-size-fits-all perspective  does not work for a country as vast and diverse as India.

STATES HSBC-1 STATES HSBC-2

This report looks at the changing relationship between the central government and the states and how this  is reshaping the country’s economy. It examines how the 36 states and territories are increasingly taking  charge of their own destinies, the significant differences in their pace of development and what lessons can be learned from the success stories. We also give investors essential demographic, developmental,  economic, and policy insights for each state and discuss the opportunities and challenges they face.

Significantly, these changes are taking place at a time when the near double-digit growth of 2004-08 seems like a distant memory. India’s economy has slowed, inflation remains high, and the government  has only recently re-ignited the structural reform agenda, a must to revive growth. What’s more, India experienced a tumultuous summer last year as talk of tapering quantitative easing by the US Federal Reserve exposed the country’s economic vulnerabilities and spelled trouble for the currency. It has since stabilised, partly in response to policy measures, although vulnerabilities remain.

But as the central government in Delhi was dragging its feet, some states and union territories have taken  the initiative. They are attracting manufacturing and service industries – both domestic and from overseas – helping to create jobs and adding value to local economies. While India’s national GDP growth rate fell to 4.7% in 2013-14, down from 9% a few years earlier, a number of the states have been recording double-digit growth.

Although the states are becoming a larger part of the India narrative, progress has been uneven. The richer  ones are reaping the benefits of making it considerably easier to do business in their own backyards, but at the same time they are leaving poorer states behind.

The western state of Gujarat is often held up as a shining example of how to get things done. Narendra Modi, the former Chief Minister of Gujarat state for 11 years, is now the 15th Prime Minister of India. On  his watch the state’s economy expanded at an average growth rate of around 10%, more than quadrupling  GDP per capita in nominal terms and doubling it when adjusted for inflation.

Then there’s the largest state economy, Maharastra, known for its Mumbai billionaires, Bollywood movie stars and thriving services sector. It is the second most populous and third largest state by area; if it was a nation in its own right, Maharashtra would be the world’s 10th most populous country. Mumbai, the state capital and financial centre of India, is home to the headquarters of all major banks and insurance companies, as well as India’s largest stock market, the Bombay Stock Exchange, the oldest in Asia.

There have also been success stories among the poorer states. The economy of Bihar, with income per person on par with impoverished African countries, has experienced a revival as law and order has been established and more business friendly policies introduced.

States Map HSBC But it’s been a long journey for all concerned. After gaining independence from Britain in 1947, India suffered under a planned economy for more than 40 years. Almost every aspect of business was controlled by the state through an elaborate system of licences, regulations and other red tape. Approval was needed from scores of government agencies before private companies could start to operate.

It couldn’t last and, as the economy festered, reform was the only option. China had Deng Xiaoping, the man who transformed China in the late 1970s and early 1980s. India had Manmohan Singh, the former Prime Minister who as Finance Minister played a major part in introducing the reforms in the 1990s that changed the economy beyond all recognition. The results were dramatic. ‘The tortoise became a hare’ as growth rates began to match those of the Asian tigers like Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan. Poverty retreated and entrepreneurs started to build world-class businesses.

But the job is only half done. The reform process is far from complete and lack of progress in recent years has weighed heavily on growth. In the latest World Bank and International Finance Corporation ease of doing business survey, India ranked 134th out of 189 economies (China is 96th). It was ranked 179th for starting a business, 182nd for dealing with construction permits, and 186th for enforcing contracts. Together with weak infrastructure, skill gaps and rigid labour laws, this has put a lid on India’s growth potential.

Central and state governments need to get reforms back up to speed and draw lessons from the success stories delivered by the most progressive states. Our analysis shows that this could lift growth to double-digit levels for many over the next decade.

Against this diverse backdrop, our research on Indian states has thrown up some fascinating statistics:

  • A country of countries: Many states are the size of countries. Uttar Pradesh, the largest state, would be world’s fifth most populous country if it was a separate nation; matching Brazil.
  • So young: In some Indian states (Bihar, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh) more than 50% of the people are younger than 24. The average in India is around 50% vs. 36% in China and 42% in Brazil.
  • A large gap: There is significant difference in levels of development. Some states have income per capita levels on par with poor African countries, while others match Southeast Asian levels.
  • Thinking hard: Knowledge-based industries are gaining ground. This has made Bangalore City the fourth largest technology cluster in the world after Silicon Valley, Boston, and London.
  • Industry power houses: While the services sector has been a tour de force, some India states such as Gujarat, Orissa, and Punjab are as industrialised as South Korea and Singapore.
  • Still growing strongly: Despite the slowdown in recent years, 10 state economies expanded at an average rate of 9-12% over the past few years.
  • Significant potential: If the least reformist states adopted the business environment of the most reformist states, they could crank up their potential growth by another 1.5-2.5ppts.
  • Large global players: Growth is set to rise in coming years as structural reforms are rolled out, which could give at least five states membership to the trillion dollar GDP club 10 years from now.

What emerges from our research is a far more complex picture of India and its states than we first assumed.

From an investor perspective, it underscores the importance of looking at India on a state-by-state basis.

It also suggests that, despite all the current economic gloom, India’s future is bright indeed. Its demographic dividend, emerging middle class, army of skilled technology workers, and vibrant corporate sector are all significant plusses.

Fortunately, the last general election broke the long-standing political deadlock by delivering a decisive mandate for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The party’s leader, the reform minded Prime Minister Modi, knows that maintaining the status quo is not the solution – India’s slowest economic growth in a decade demands action. We believe this report shows that the spirit of the 1991 reforms is alive and well in some of India’s more dynamic states. The country as a whole can draw lessons from what these states have achieved.

Whether you are an expert on India or a relative newcomer, we hope you find what follows useful.”

……………………………………

That’s the end of the intro to the report. You can download this extremely useful report here)

About the authors of this report:

Prithviraj Srinivas, Economist – HSBC Securities and Capital Markets (India) Private Limited. Prithviraj Srinivas joined HSBC in July 2009 as an economist covering India and Sri Lanka. He has over five years of experience in covering the region and nearly 10 years in finance. Prithviraj holds a master’s degree in international economics and finance from the University of Queensland, Australia.

 

Frederic Neumann, Co-head of Asian Economics Research – The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited. Frederic Neumann, PhD, is Managing Director and Co-Head of Asian Economic Research, based in Hong Kong. Before joining HSBC in 2006, Frederic was an adjunct professor at a number of US universities, including Johns Hopkins University, teaching graduate courses on Asian sovereign risk analysis, financial markets, monetary policy, and Southeast Asian political culture. He also served as a consultant to international organizations and governments, and as a research associate of the Institute for International Economics in Washington, DC. A former Fulbright scholar, Frederic holds a PhD in international economics and Asian studies.

WPP invests tech plus $25 million for significant stake in AppNexus

AppNexus to Acquire Open AdStream® Ad Serving Platform from Xaxis; WPP Will Take Equity Stake in AppNexus with $25 Million Investment

Deal Enhances AppNexus’ Position as Industry’s Largest Independent Ad Serving Platform; Strengthens Xaxis’ Position as Leader in Programmatic Media Products

WPP, the world’s leading communications services group, announces that it has agreed to inject the industry’s second-largest publisher ad server platform (formerly part of Xaxis, its wholly-owned global programmatic media and technology platform) and invest US$25 million in AppNexus, to enhance AppNexus’ position as the world’s largest independent ad technology provider.
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The strategic transaction will augment AppNexus’ position as the industry’s largest independent ad technology company. Under the terms of the agreement, AppNexus will acquire Xaxis’ premium ad-serving technology, Open AdStream® (OAS), now known as Xaxis For Publishers. In addition, WPP will invest $25 million in AppNexus, adding to the $85 million in funding the company recently raised at a valuation of $1.2 billion.

As a technology company independent of any media business, AppNexus is uniquely positioned to offer both buyers and sellers solutions to achieve their online advertising goals. The company will now work to align the AppNexus and OAS™ technology stacks to create the most innovative offering in the industry to respective clients and the industry at large.

This deal also strengthens the position of Xaxis as the global leader in programmatic audience products, including those such as Xaxis TV and Xaxis Prime, which enhance the digital media experience for consumers and deliver higher ROI for advertisers. The divestiture allows Xaxis to focus software development on its own robust platform including its Turbine DMP, analytics suite, and cross-channel optimization technology, all while continuing to have direct access to high-quality publishers.

“Our clients want world-class solutions from independent ad technology companies,” said Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP. “We’re delighted to deepen our partnership with AppNexus, which has proven itself as a clear leader in ad tech and a company with the scale and ingenuity to continue to transform our industry.”

Publishers want a technology partner they can trust,” said Brian O’Kelley, CEO of AppNexus. “Open AdStream has been one of the most effective and trusted ad serving platforms in the world for years. We’re going to make it #1 in programmatic.”

“Xaxis is committed to building and partnering to provide world-class ad technology and solutions for our clients,” said Brian Lesser, CEO of Xaxis. “This allows both companies to double down on what we do best. We’re focusing our technology development on data management, decisioning, and new products. Open AdStream is in great hands as a part of AppNexus’ powerful independent tech stack.”

The transaction is subject to regulatory approval and customary closing conditions, and is expected to close by year end.

AppNexus has net revenues that are significantly above US$100 million and is currently valued at US$1.2 billion. The company employs nearly 600 people and is based in New York with 10 offices around the world. It was founded in 2007. AppNexus’ platform allows real time buying and selling of digital advertising for marketers, publishers and content providers and media investment management companies, including Xaxis and its parent GroupM, the WPP-owned media investment management company that oversees US$105 billion in client billings, according to RECMA. AppNexus currently delivers more than 30 billion ad impressions per day and forecasts that annual spending across its platform will exceed US$2 billion in 2014.
Xaxis is contributing its “Xaxis For Publishers” (XFP) business to AppNexus (formerly Open Adstream). The technology was one of several acquired by WPP as part of the 24/7 Real Media acquisition and is the second largest publisher ad server platform in the world. The staff of XFP will join AppNexus, where they will add even greater value to AppNexus’ strategy. This deal enables Xaxis to focus development resources on its core data technology and media products, while more closely aligning with a strong, independent ad serving partner. Xaxis will continue to develop its own robust proprietary platform including its Turbine DMP, analytics suite, and reporting and optimization technology.
appnexusThe investment continues WPP’s strategy of investing in fast-growing sectors such as ad technology and programmatic media buying. By taking a greater stake in AppNexus, WPP further cements its leadership position in ad tech and programmatic targeting and supports an independent ad tech ecosystem that is of more value to clients than the “walled garden” solutions offered by AppNexus’ competitors, the largest of which are also media companies.
WPP’s digital revenues (including associates) were well over US$6 billion in 2013, amounting to approximately 35% of the Group’s total revenues of US$17.3 billion. WPP has set a target of 40-45% of revenue to be derived from digital in the next five years. Xaxis, the world’s largest programmatic media platform directs more than US$750 million of audience-targeted media buys across 33 markets in North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and Latin America and manages over two trillion impressions annually. On the basis of current market valuations, Xaxis would be worth over US$4 billion on its own, in comparison to WPP’s own market capitalization of US$27.5 billion.
WPP is a leader in the application of technology to marketing. In 2007 WPP was the first company in the sector to invest in applied technology with the acquisition of 24/7 Real Media, which was to become the base on which Xaxis was built. Its other companies, like Acceleration (marketing technology consultancy), Cognifide (content management technology), Salmon (ecommerce agencies), and Hogarth (digital production technology) are all applying technology to marketing to help clients transact and build relationships with their customers. It also has investments in a number of innovative technology services companies such as Globant and Mutual Mobile and advertising technology companies such as eCommera, DOMO, Percolate, Say Media. Previously it was an investor in Buddy Media, Jumptap and Omniture.
The transaction is subject to regulatory approval and customary closing conditions, and is expected to close by year end.

WPP’s VML to acquire China digital agency Teein

vml-teein_logoVML, the global digital network wholly owned by WPP, is set to acquire Teein, a social media agency in China. For the last 10 years, Teein, a full-service social media agency in Shanghai, has been offering social listening, social marketing and social CRM, along with social media application development, online media planning and buying and online public opinion monitoring. Teein’s important clients include Unilever, Lenovo, Google, Estee Lauder, SAP and Danone.

Employing around 170 people, Teein’s unaudited revenues for the year ending 31 December 2013 were 43.5 million RMB, and its gross assets were to the tune of RMB 13.3 million.

This acquisition marks a further step towards WPP’s declared goal of developing its networks in fast-growth markets and sectors.

In Greater China, WPP companies (including associates) generate revenues of US$1.5 billion with nearly 15,000 people. In the Asia Pacific region, WPP companies (including associates) generate revenues of US$5 billion and employ nearly 50,000 people.

WPP’s digital revenues (including associates) were well over US$6 billion in 2013, approximately 35% of the Group’s total revenues of US$17.3 billion. WPP has set a target of 40-45% of revenue to be derived from digital in the next five years.

Did FIFA 2014 help India.com beat Indiatimes on Total Unique Visitors?

India.com, which, has been around and working at making it — literally — big in user numbers on ComScore, has finally flashed a paid ad campaign on afaqs.com, quoting ComScore numbers that peg it marginally ahead of Indiatimes.com.

The numbers proffered by India.com peg its Total Unique Visitors at roughly two million. This puts India.com only slightly ahead of Indiatimes.com’s approximately 18000000 Total Unique Visitors, in what should be less than a 2-week period, across  approximately six whole months (See grab below).

IndiaDOTcomAdCampaignAfaqs

A wafer-thin lead, in a tiny time window, and a portal rushes out with an ad  flyer. But then, that’s how difficult good news by way of stronger numbers for a David is  to come by, and it must rush to tell the (media-buying) world, and understandably, before Indiatimes.com uses the phenomenal might of the TOI Group to push up the numbers. And you will remember it’s been among the Top 20 portals of India

From where did India.com get the numbers? Well, in the period they’re happy and ad-flashing about, one big differentiator is the first storey of their home page.

But the bigger story here is, what did India.com do to make sure it kept growing uninterrupted and at a decent rate from mid-December 2013 to end-March 2014, after which it sort of plateaued during April 2014, and then leapfrogged to surpass Indiatimes.com to reach the numbers where Indiatimes was in mid-December 2013, when this comparison per the ad flash began?

And what did Indiatimes.com do wrong to  dip.  How did India.com get the numbers? Because Indiatimes.com’s dip was much smaller than India.com’s gian. So did the market grow? From where and how did India.com find numbers big enough for this chest-thumping, and will they remain? While time will answer the last question, I’ll try and get some to the remaining.

Was it FIFA 2014?

From where did India.com get the numbers? Well, in the period they’re happy and ad-flashing about, one big differentiator is the first storey of their home page.

See how prominently, and beautifully India.com has laid out its FIFA 2014 Updates and Results spreads, match-wise.

FOR-BLOG-INDIAdotCOM

I wouldn’t be surprised if India.com got its biggest chunk of incremental hits and Unique Visitors in the form of Football fans., who I believe are a largely male audience. So, given its otherwise balanced approach of a judicious mix of hard news and soft features, India.com should continue to interest and engage its male users, and will retain  them even when FIFA 2014 is over (after, my guess is, a European team takes on Brazil in the final, but that’s another story :)

For some strange reason, Indiatimes.com has persisted with the news sense of a light, gossippy, lifestyle-and-entertainment kind. FIFA 2013, meanwhile, is cued just via a paid ad banner at the lower end of the first storey.

WWW.INDIATIMES.COM

For now, just wanted to congratulate India.com for its numbers, and for the alacrity with which they rushed out to tell the world. After all, as I said above,  Indiatimes.com is certainly no pushover, so one will watch the battle as it unfolds.

 

 

Eargasm of the Day – Dark Sax

Pavan R Chawla:

Take a break with this cool, rakishly-rough-around-the-edges Saxophone instrumental, adeptly played by Carl Catron, and shared by audiophile fellow-blogger and musician-composer James L Revells III (you’ll like his FB Page, here: https://www.facebook.com/jlriiicomposer) has shared. You’ll want to follow James’ blog too (http://audiosexxx.com/).

Enjoy!

Originally posted on Audio SeXXX:

I met this guy, Carl Catron on Facebook while I was snooping around the groups and he can play a sax with feeling. I’m just going to let this man and his sax do the talking. with out further ado. Carl Catron.

Support his campaign and donate here for his performances and music videos. http://www.patreon.com/carlcatron

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